Report: Romneycare no ‘budget buster’

The nonprofit Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation has run the numbers on Romneycare, which recently celebrated its sixth birthday, and finds that the health insurance expansion hasn’t been the ‘budget buster’ that some expected.

“Additional state spending attributable to the health reform law accounted for only 1.4 percent of the Commonwealth’s $32 billion budget in fiscal year 2011,” the group finds.

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‘I thought, why not pair risk adjustment with Samuel L. Jackson’

(Payment Reform Made Meme)

Attention, wonks: We may have stumbled onto the world’s wonkiest Tumblr.

Payment Reform Made Meme launched yesterday, much to the delight of health-care nerds across the country. If you’ve ever wanted to see Simba and Mufasa from “The Lion King” discuss government regulation of health-care pricing, or see Ryan Gosling whisper sweet nothings about global payments, this would be your chance.

The Tumblr is the brainchild of Ari Fertig of Health Care for All Massachusetts. When I caught him this morning, he immediately described his meme-ifying of health-care policy as “by far the geekiest thing I’ve ever done.”

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America’s teen birth rate is at a new low -- and still 10 times higher than Switzerland’s

Good news! Well, sort of: The United States’ teen birth rate has hit an all-time low -- but it is still double that of 20 other industrialized nations. Economists are trying to understand why.

First, the good news: In 2010, the most recent year for which data is available, there were 34.4 births per 1,000 U.S. women ages 15 to 19., a 9 percent drop from the year before, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. American teen birth rates fell across all age and racial groups that year, indicating a widespread trend.

(The Center for Disease Control)

This an especially welcome development after the rate ticked upwards in the mid-2000s, leaving researchers wondering whether the big reductions in the 1980s and 1990s (in the chart above) were about to be reversed.

Now, the bad news: America’s teen birth rate dwarfs that of the other industrialized nations that were measured.

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‘I always had to call an ambulance to get up.’

‘I always had to call an ambulance to get up.’

The San Diego Union-Tribune is in the middle of a fantastic series that looks at health care’s “frequent fliers”: the 1 percent of Americans who account for 22 percent of national health-care spending. These heavy users tend to be disproportionately lower-income, with less access to health-care services, like the man that John Gonzalez and James Gregg profile:

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‘We should be better judges of when things are futile.’

(Vadim Ghirda - AP)
Last week, a new initiative called Choosing Wisely got a lot of positive attention for gathering nine medical specialty groups and coming up with 45 procedures that even doctors think doctors shouldn’t do. But a new study on end-of-life care suggests that actually implementing those recommendations will be difficult.

Researchers at the Dartmouth Atlas looked at how well cancer treatment facilities, from world-renowned institutions to community hospitals, did at following end-of-life care guidelines. The guidelines were drawn up by the National Quality Forum, in consultation with stakeholder groups, and include avoiding chemotherapy treatment in the last two weeks of life and reducing intensive care unit admissions. The new parameters were largely meant to respond to numerous studies showing that, at the end of life, cancer patients tend to want less aggressive treatment.

So these are, in other words, treatments that patients don’t think doctors should do. But they get done anyway.

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